Free Street temporarily reopened to traffic from Congress Street

Nov. 23—The company that began rebuilding Congress Square last spring met the city's deadline to open Free Street to traffic on Wednesday — even if only temporarily.

Workers with Gordon Contracting removed traffic barriers at the top of Free Street at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, allowing vehicles to enter the one-way street from Congress Street, downtown Portland's main thoroughfare.

Before the $7.2 million project began, vehicles accessed the start of Free Street from High Street, a busy two-lane, one-way street that crosses Congress and has been reduced to one lane near the intersection since May.

Free Street will remain open at Congress Street until 6:30 a.m. Monday, when it will be closed again so workers can finish installing granite paving in front of the Portland Museum of Art, said Drew Straehle, project manager.

That paving will be completed by Dec. 22, when both Free Street and the closed lane of High Street will reopen permanently to traffic, Straehle said.

Relief for motorists, pedestrians and area businesses will be short-lived, however, because rebuilding Congress Square in front of the art museum is only 50% of the project. Work on the three other corners at Congress and High streets will require similar lane closures.

This story will be updated.